Writing Identities: The Transformation of Student-Tutors through Tutor Training
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Professional Studies
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This study examines a tutor training practicum, conducted in a writing center at a state university during the fall of 2010 and the ways in which training for tutoring is transformational for student-tutors. Though writing center research often focuses on the tutorial as the site of critical inquiry, this study‘s hermeneutical focus is analyzing how new tutors‘ understanding of writing transforms through tutor training and the effects of that transformation on their role as tutors. First, literature regarding writing center history, peer tutoring, tutor training pedagogy, and student writing is examined. Then, student data, collected through ethnographic techniques such as survey, observation, and textual analysis, is evaluated and conclusions are reached relevant to possibilities for further research. Student-tutors reported more confidence in their writing as a direct result of tutor training. This increased confidence was described as due to a new awareness of the writing process. Student-tutors also noted improved grammar and punctuation skills and better attention to the idea of audience and discourse conventions. The awareness and confidence gained was interpreted as a result of students‘ conflict about their understanding of the writing process. Through theory and other classroom readings and discussions students explored their prior relationship to writing and questioned the strategies they used in their own writing processes. Skill improvement, though in part influenced by a small amount of direct instruction and discussion during the course, was considered primarily a result of tutoring and both observing errors and helping other students correct them.